Underperforming marketing campaigns result in frustration for the team that developed them and the company that sees little to no return on its investment. There is, unfortunately, no “silver bullet” that makes a marketing campaign a massive success every time. However, there are a few steps you can take to give yourself a better chance. For Eloqua users, one of the most essential steps is to create a marketing campaign checklist to follow during development.
Setting the Stage
You have an event next week, and not nearly as many people have registered as you’d hoped. What do you do?
While you might be tempted to send out another email blast to drum up interest, this can backfire. Your prospects and customers may be annoyed to receive another marketing email and might complain or even unsubscribe. Unfortunately, by now, this marketing campaign is likely a lost cause.
The best thing to do to avoid a repeat is to understand what went wrong and how to fix your mistakes in the future. Let’s look at this step by step.
Step 1: Clarify Your Initial Campaign Goal
What, exactly, do you want to accomplish with this campaign?
To answer this question, remember the SMART framework. Your goal with any marketing campaign should be:
- Specific: “Get more people to attend the webinar” is a vague, unhelpful goal. “Increase webinar registrations by 25%” gives you something concrete to aim for.
- Measurable: This ties back in with having a specific goal. With numbers in mind, you’ll know if you hit your target and how significantly you missed or exceeded the goal.
- Attainable: As nice as it would be, very few marketing campaigns result in 100% conversion. Be realistic about what you can accomplish without setting the bar too low or too high.
- Relevant: What are the current market conditions? If a recession is looming, conversion rates might be lower.
- Time-based: Whatever your goal, establish a definite timeframe for it. This lets you analyze your results and move on to better campaigns sooner.
These all sound basic, but many marketers are tempted to skip these steps. If you’re unsure how to set ambitious but realistic goals, consider using results from past campaigns to guide your planning.
Step 2: Assess Your Campaign Resources
The resources available for your campaign significantly impact your ability to reach your goals. For our purposes, we’ll consider three kinds of resources: data, tools, and skills.
- Data quality and quantity: Generally speaking, aim for a list of 400-1000 contacts as the minimum threshold to run a test. If you have a smaller contact list, consider moving to a highly personalized account-based marketing approach.
- Tools: What marketing automation, email marketing, and related tools do you have available to run your campaign? If your available tools are limited, the more difficult it may be to run a demanding campaign.
- Your experience level: If you are about to run a campaign to drive attendance at an event and you’ve never done that before, you may need to adjust your expectations. Likewise, if you are proficient with marketing automation but have weaker skills in copy, this skill mix will impact what kind of campaigns you can run. Consider partnering with another person who has the marketing skills you lack. Or seek help from an outside agency.
Step 3: Identify Barriers to Campaign Success
After identifying your available resources, it’s time to look more closely at potential barriers. Risks are inevitable, and identifying potential obstacles upfront can help you identify, understand, and manage them to achieve your goals. For example:
- Alignment with sales: If you don’t take the time to align with the sales team, they may perceive your campaign as a waste of time. We take a look at how to avoid several of the most common alignment mistakes here.
- Market sophistication: If the market is already saturated, your campaign may struggle. However, if your copy and messaging help distinguish your solution from your competition, customers may be more interested in your offerings.
Step 4: Perform a Sanity Check
The next step is to evaluate your initial goal with the barriers and resources you have identified. Go back to the SMART framework for a bit. Does the campaign goal still make sense? Is it achievable? If not, adjust the scope or timeline accordingly. Don’t forget to check back with your stakeholders and get their input.
Step 5: Remove Duplicates and Errors from Your Marketing Data
Bad data hurts marketing results in two ways. First, low-quality data means fewer appropriate prospects will see your message. Second, you will find it difficult to measure your results accurately and determine ROI.
To improve your marketing data, use the following techniques:
- Clean your data: For Eloqua users, we recommend using the Contact Washing Machine. It’s a free tool included with Eloqua that helps ensure data coming into your system is as clean as possible
- Assess the age of your marketing data: The accuracy of business contact data gradually declines over time as people move to new roles. If you are targeting businesses, keep in mind that the average employee tenure is 4-5 years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
- Manually review: Yes, we are suggesting that you manually look at your campaign data set. Pick a few dozen contacts from your list and review them manually.
You might also consider using the Friendly CSV tool to clean your email list. It can help you remove “LLC” and similar data from company names and make other simple changes.
Step 6: Evaluate Need to Enrich Your Data
Does your marketing data only contain a name and email address? Two data points per contact are not much to build a campaign. Here are some options to consider:
- Use a third-party data provider for lead enrichment: For B2B leads, you might find better data using solutions like BuiltWith.com for technology insights.
- Build your own data enrichment tools: Besides paid services, you can also build solutions using the data you already have. For example, if you collect job title on every form, create a program to evaluate and segment your data by job function and level using data lookups and lookup tables. You can also use Eloqua Cloud Apps from 4Thought Marketing to populate job level and job role.
- Adjust your campaign goal to get more insights: Instead of a direct sales call to action, make a content offer to your prospects. For example, you might offer a webinar aimed at an executive audience (e.g., “What CFOs Need to Know About Presenting to The Board”). Based on who responds to the offer, you will have a higher degree of confidence about which of your contacts fits an executive profile. The registration data will also help enrich your contact data.
Step 7: Check Privacy and Compliance Requirements
Businesses must consider how to address privacy and compliance regulations. Depending on where you do business, you may be subject to GDPR or other privacy laws. Any campaign should ensure you comply with the appropriate privacy and data regulations.
Depending on the data you’ve collected, it might be tricky to determine where each contact lives and what laws apply. Check the IP address they used to subscribe or engage with your content for a rough idea of their location.
Step 8: Verify Your Campaign Tracking
Without tracking, you cannot tell if your marketing campaign succeeded. Ideally, you will want to track multiple metrics so you can come up with relevant changes. In an email marketing campaign, you could track open rates, clicks, and replies. In a direct response style campaign, you may focus on the number of orders.
To verify your campaign tracking is correctly configured, send out messages to an internal company email list. We recommend sending it to at least two different email accounts.
Step 9: Start With a Small Marketing Test
Some marketing campaigns – such as running an annual event – do not lend themselves to smaller tests. For online marketing campaigns, we recommend you use the 10% rule. If you plan to engage 1,000 prospects, first send a test campaign to 100 contacts. In this test campaign, verify all the technology works properly and gauge market response to a degree. You might even want to start with a smaller campaign experiment.
Step 10: SLO – Subject Line Optimization
In an email campaign, you should test at least two subject lines. You may find that one variation yields significantly improved open rates. Likewise, you should consider testing multiple variations for a webinar landing page. And don’t forget using subject line testing tools like SubjectLine.com.
Step 11: STO – Send Time Optimization
Obviously, people check their email at different times. And with the sheer number of emails most people receive now, your targeted messages can get buried under so many others that the recipient may never see them. But there’s a way around this. A certain add-on tool for Eloqua can determine when your customers are most likely to engage with your messages and schedule the emails to arrive at the best time possible.
Whether you program your STO tool yourself or purchase it from Eloqua, take advantage of this opportunity! Don’t let your messages get buried.
Step 12: Launch Your Campaign
After you’ve carefully considered the items above, you should be ready to launch your marketing campaign! After completion, refer back to the first few steps of the checklist. Ask yourself how you performed against your goals – what went smoothly and where did you encounter problems. The insights you gain from this analysis will help you to plan your next campaign more effectively.
Step 13: Keep Improving Your Checklist
A checklist shouldn’t remain static. After each campaign, examine what went well and how to improve future campaigns. Make a point of asking how to update your checklist to drive better results based on your most recent experience.
An Eloqua marketing campaign checklist helps improve performance. While your checklist will be unique, it likely shares some common elements, including goal setting, resource analysis, risk assessment, and sanity checks. As you prepare your data, don’t forget to remove duplicates, enrich your data, confirm privacy and compliance, and campaign tracking. Don’t forget to perform small marketing tests, including subject line testing, and keep improving your checklist after each completed campaign.
Ready to take your marketing campaigns to the next level? Get in touch with our team today and start using Eloqua to its full potential.